Visa-holder sentenced over 'unlawful' business earnings
THOUSANDS of dollars police had claimed was linked with drug supply had in fact come from an online clothing store, a court has heard.
French national Robin Theo Perrin, 26, who has been staying in Byron Bay, was charged with possessing a prohibited drug and having suspected stolen goods after police searched his vehicle on July 18.
According to court documents, police saw Perrin and another man, Elie Tom Kemmoun, 33, talk briefly at Byron's Main Beach car park before they both drove to Tallow Beach.
There, they found a significant amount of drugs, including MDMA, in Kemmoun's BMW.
Kemmoun was sentenced to six months' prison in July but has since appealed that penalty and on September 1, his sentence was reduced to three months for drug supply and possession.
Police found almost 30g of cannabis and $3150 cash in the Jeep Perrin was driving.
Police alleged the cash was consistent with the amount required to buy about an ounce of MDMA.
But when Perrin faced Byron Bay Local Court on Monday, solicitor John Weller said his client obtained the funds through his online-based clothing business.
Mr Weller said his client, who had been in Australia for two years, had been conducting the business for the past five years.
Magistrate Karen Stafford acknowledged Perrin's account of the money's origin was "obviously very different from the police allegation that it was the proceeds of the sale of one ounce of MDMA".
"Where there is a huge degree of difference in terms of fact-finding … the prosecution must prove that beyond a reasonable doubt," she said.
"In this case a doubt has been raised in the defence submissions."
She accepted the money was from Perrin's business.
"That is unlawful because that goes against the terms of your visa," she said.
"There's a big need for the courts to deter people from acting in unlawful ways, particularly when it's gaining income unlawfully."
Perrin was convicted of each offence, fined him $300 for the drug possession and received a 12 month community corrections order.
The $3150 was to be forfeited to the Crown as the money was deemed to have been obtained while illegally working in Australia.